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Eight Florida Counties May Receive Disaster Relief From FEMA

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Eight counties, and a number of adjacent ones, may be eligible for disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration if owners file claims for damages caused by Hurricane Hermine.

Citrus, Dixie, Hernando, Hillsborough, Leon, Levy, Pasco and Pinellas County are under presidential disaster declaration for Hermine and have undergone damage assessments. Regional FEMA spokesperson John Mills said victims should still file for all possible claims from their insurance providers before filing a claim with the federal agency.

“FEMA, by law, can not pay for what insurance covers,” Mills said. “The first step is filing those insurance claims.”

The damage assessment team included officials from local government, the state of Florida, FEMA, and the SBA. A press release from the SBA said businesses and private nonprofit organizations can apply for loans (capped at $2 million) to repair and/or replace damaged facilities and equipment, among other business assets. In addition, organizations may receive loans up to 20 percent of their physical damages to pay for “mitigation improvements,” like added storm shelters and safe rooms.

Homeowners in the eight afflicted counties may apply for loans (capped at $200,000) to replace or repair destroyed or damaged real estate. In addition, homeowners and renters with damaged or destroyed personal property are eligible for loans to repair or replace it. These loans are capped at $40,000.

Regardless of whether or not businesses and nonprofit organizations suffered physical damages, certain smaller ones may be eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which help supplant income loss caused by the storm.

These Economic Injury loans are available not only to the eight counties mentioned above, but also to their neighbors: Alachua, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Hardee, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Manatee, Marion, Polk, Sumter, Taylor and Wakulla counties. In Georgia, small businesses and nonprofits in Grady and Thomas counties may also file for these loans. Businesses in these 15 counties, however, are not eligible for the physical damage assistance mentioned above.

Residents may fill out electronic loan applications via the SBA’s secure website. The deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 28.  For economic injury applications, the deadline is June 28.

Levy County held a meeting at the Emergency Operations Center in Bronson Wednesday for local representatives to determine the amount of disaster relief money that will go to fixing government-owned property.

John MacDonald, director of the Levy County Department of Emergency Management, said this applicant briefing for assistance only concerns public property within Levy County.

Impacted residents can reach FEMA for individual assistance by phone at 800-621-3362 or on the web.

About Jordan Milian

Jordan is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 904-477-3727 or emailing jordanmilian6@gmail.com.

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